Emergencies are unpredictable by nature.
Part of the difficulty in preparing for them arises from the number of possible security events.
Luckily, the market is filled to the brim with ever-evolving technology to meet the needs of just about any safety event—from cameras and digital signage, to mobile apps that deliver important information about steps to take in an emergency.
Strategies That Are Already Popular
According to Chris Wynn, Chief of District Security for Val Verde Unified School District, each piece of technology on Val Verde campuses “has its own level of importance for securing a school site.”
Val Verde schools utilize a variety of security technology to keep the campuses safe:
• a lobby management system that check visitor’s IDs against the sex offender database
• cameras that capture “events that have already occurred”
• digital radios that make it possible to communicate easily among all twenty-two of the district schools
• an electronic access control system that can lock all the doors in the building at the touch of a button
In addition to hardware that makes securing a campus easier, universities also need a mass notification system in order to comply with federal law.
According to Erik Stafford, Director of Higher Education Sales at Alertus Technologies, “There are really two sides to emergency notification. There’s reaching out to the individual, and then there’s covering a space, area, facility, campus, etc.”
Mass notification technologies, such as ones offered by Alertus, focus on making sure everyone on campus is notified of the emergency, says Stafford. This includes hardware like alert beacons, panic buttons and software that broadcasts an emergency message to anyone in a given area.
One key element in any mass notification system is how that message is broadcasted. Spencer Graham, Manager of Operations for West Virginia University Information Stations, says that WVU implemented a network of digital signage with emergency notification capabilities across all three of the WVU campuses after witnessing the tragedies of the Virginia Tech Massacre.
Using software called e2Campus, WVU police can push a button during emergencies that sends an XML feed to the digital signage network, which is then broadcasted across all three campuses. Additionally, text alerts and email alerts are sent out to anyone who is signed up to receive them, Graham says.
Plan of action
Another important part of keeping campus safe is making sure that everyone knows what to do in the case of an emergency. Apps like CrisisManager from SchoolDude.com is one such option.
According to Nick Mirisis, Senior Director of Marketing at SchoolDude.com, CrisisManager “exists to help…educational institutions migrate the safety plans that primarily exist in paper format and to put them in a mobile-friendly app.”